I’m a dedicated Raspberry Pi User, It all started with Pi2, And with Raspberry Pi 3 being so powerful, It quickly became the heart of my room. I have made it as a Video Player for my main TV, and it simultaneously serves 3TB data drives over LAN to other systems via UPNP, FTP and Samba.
Realizing that PiZero is finally available in India for its meaningful price of 750 Rupees, I decided to buy one. The only thing stopping me was the ridiculous amount at which Indian sellers were listing, Which was around 2100-3000 Rupees, Almost 3x the price.
Finally, I got my PiZero, For a listed price of 750~INR on ThingsBit and added GST+Tax+Shipping, It billed me about 1150.
and as soon as I got it, I put the card with PINN Installer inside the slot, started a dedicated hotspot connection, And booted it. (A Very comprehensive guide on PINN, an amazing bootloader for Pi3 and PiZero 🙂
I was amazed by the huge variety of Operating Systems available on it, From default Raspbian to Ubuntu mate, And our favorite, LibreElec !
If we were to bump the specs just a bit more, Like 1GB ram, Dual Core processor and good GPU, no doubt we could have added Android in the list… Win Some, Lose Some Right ?
The downloading of LibreElec along with some other OS didn’t take much time, Neither did installing them, And before it become irritating, We were greeted with LibreElec welcome screen.
The Troublesome Road :
I noticed there aren’t many USB hub choices available on PiZero, Unlike my Pi3B, It had only one Type-C jack and connecting another cluster of Hard-disks would be a PAIN. No worries, I connected a Wireless mouse receiver on the only slot. I was relieved that it has on-board networking, which makes it close to being a Computer.
I connect the PiZero to the home WiFi, gave it a static IP & Linked the Pi3B database to it via FTP. All went flawless and Kodi soon began scanning for stuff. While all the data was being scanned, Kodi often freezed up, Only to reboot itself. But okay, Scanning for Content is a tedious task.
The Playback :
720p files worked flawlessly while being buffered from network, But 1080p showed the system is under strain and dropped some frames in kodi, Tasks such as small as changing volume or skipping sometimes hangs the PiZero, But its not too much.
H.265 or HVEC was another painful issue, Most of my modern TV shows are in H.265, And kodi on PiZero would crash at playing even the most lower-bitrate H.265 files. Well, it’s understandable, PiZero is nothing but an optimized Raspberry Pi 1.
The Hope :
Raspberry Pi 3B started with the same issues, Frames drops, Stuttering, freezes etc and slowly they all got patched up, The 3B even plays H.265 now with Kodi Krypton. I can just hope the PiFoundation keeps working of how to make raspberry pi better, And the community including OS makers take an interest in this small RaspPiZero.
The Guilt (?) :
I think if getting a PiZero was a mistake, I should have gone towards OrangePi Zero, It has a beefier hardware and a processor made for H.265 decoding. The only drawback is that it requires an Expansion Board to output RCA video. If you want a SBC just for media-works sake, Consider getting something with A5-Mali450, They are pretty great is media playback. Ras-Foundation could have gone with a better processor but i guess that would have made it out of budget. Nonetheless, I have found that equipped with a very nice power supply (I upgraded it to Moto G4 turbo charger) and a high grade SDHC, Pi Zero does adequate tasks for a 1000 Indian Rupee SBC.
If you want easy, low cost and low powered computer, Raspberry Pi Zero is a compulsory interest, It’s a great machine, but for today only. If you want an addon for you’re Pi3B, like I did, Raspberry Pi Zero provides a cheap hardware with very nice developer/community support. It has the widest variety of OS available for a board that size, Although we would have loved a beefier CPU and Mali 450~ish GPU, Maybe in the next generation of PiZero. Atleast now we know in which direction to head…